By Kristi Belcamino
On the heels of my debut mystery, with book two coming out in a few weeks, now I’m starting to plot book three in my Gabriella Giovanni series.
Because I’m not a “pantser” which I think comes from the term “by the seat of your pants” a free-flowing, free-spirited, go-with-the-flow write-as-it-comes-to-you writer.
Nope. I plot.
I like to have a rough sketch or outline of what my novel is going to look like before I actually sit down to write. I haven’t always been this way. When I wrote Blessed are the Dead, I sat down with a vague idea of the story and let it carry me way. Which sounds wonderful and artsy and more creative, but in reality it was a terrific waste of time.
I got the words on paper and had a first draft of my novel in three months. But then I spent a year revising, polishing, shaping and molding it into the book that is in your hands today. Because when I first wrote it, I didn’t know squat about three-act structure.
And I got away with not knowing it for quite a long time. I was even able to get an agent without knowing it. But when she went to sell the book people came soooo close to buying it, but said there was “something” that wasn’t quite right about it. One editor said she went to bed thinking “I HAVE to buy this book” but woke up saying she wouldn’t be able to get others on board because it had a FATAL flaw. Holy, cats. What FATAL flaw? It read like two different books. Say what? Then another editor said something similar.
I tore apart my novel and began studying every book I could get my hands on that talked about structure, because the chief complaint about my book had something to do with its structure. Hmmm. As I read all these books, something became very clear to me—like a kick to the teeth—My book was NOT following standard three-act structure—the same structure that every successful book and movie on the planet follows.
So I revised once again. This time, I had several books to guide me, James Scott Bell’s PLOT & STRUCTURE and STORY ENGINEERING by Larry Brooks. Then, we resubmitted to the editors and this time—BOOK DEAL. Two-book deal with HarperCollins!!!!
When I sat down to write book two, you better believe I used three-act structure in my plotting. And for book three, yeppers!
I love using the Index Card method that Alexandra Sokoloff talks about in SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS.
Do you plot or are you a pantser? If you plot, what do you use? Please share. I’m a nerd about writing process and love to hear how authors do it.